In honor of my 27th birthday, I decided to list out 27 life lessons, mistakes, and realizations. I used to get really excited about my upcoming birthdays, but the older I get and the closer I get to 30, the more I dread it…OK, not really because I love birthdays, but it’s another year gone in the blink of an eye. Another year full of memories, but another year wasted away at work. (Come back next year and we’ll see exactly where I am in life, hopefully hanging around on an island living my best life)
I feel like the older you get, the wiser you’re supposed to be, right? So I racked my brain to come up with a list of 27 things that I have either learned (mistake or otherwise), try to live by, or have come to realize throughout my 27 years on planet Earth.
27 Life Lessons, Mistakes, and Realizations
- Learn the power of delayed gratification. This is a big thing in the financial independence lifestyle. Society is all about instant gratification…shopping sprees, new cars, flashy clothes or jewelry, homes, you get the idea. Once you discipline yourself on delayed gratification, you can save like you’re going to live forever and eventually conquer the world (maybe not, but you’ll definitely feel that way).
- Be more present. The things on the internet and social media will always be there. Your time, loved ones, and your time with your loved ones will not always be there.
- There is more to life than work. I feel like that is the norm, go to school to get a job, always working to get this promotion or that raise. Conversations start and are centered around careers. There is a much happier and healthier life outside of work.
- Save. Whatever you do, save money. It’s so important to have an emergency fund. Especially since we have rental properties, something is bound to happen where we need to drop a significant amount of money in the event of a crisis. If we didn’t have anything saved, everything would be ruined because we couldn’t pay the mortgages or any other bills we have.
- Invest. Whether it’s the stock market or real estate, invest in something that is going to earn interest, appreciate, or give you a return on investment. Like they say: ‘The best time to start investing was last year, the second best time is today.’
- Sometimes the only people you can rely on is family and close friends. It’s hard to find trustworthy people these days, but it’s even harder to find good friends.
- It’s okay to go against the social norm. Our lifestyle is unconventional, and we have to accept that people aren’t going to understand the choices we make and why we live the way that we do.
- People don’t care what you have. Including what car you drive, what phone you have, what house you live in, or what kind of clothes you wear.
- People may not care, but everyone has an opinion. This is especially true when you’re pursuing a lifestyle that is so foreign to most people.
- Take advantage of email subscriptions. There are so many coupons, birthday freebies, or important information that can be delivered to your inbox. But, show some self restraint. If you can’t read an email about 30% off without going on a shopping spree, then do yourself a favor and unsubscribe from everything.
- Take advantage of credit card benefits. We are big fans of using airline credit cards to travel hack. There’s also many benefits aside from earning miles, like airport lounge access, no foreign transaction fees, and travel insurance.
- Never fully rely on autopay. You may think your bills are getting paid on time, but just like humans, there could be fluke and something happens or changes and next thing you know, your credit score drops because a bill you thought was being paid is late and overdue.
- Dogs love you no matter what, and there is no love like the kind between you and your companion.
- Travel often. Traveling, especially to foreign countries, is so eye opening and gives you a new perspective in life.
- Learn another language. Same with traveling, it is so eye opening. I have been trying to learn American Sign Language for close to 8 years now, and I haven’t really put much effort into it until the past year. Being able to communicate with more people and get a glimpse into their life is so amazing. I think learning some languages should be a requirement for people in primary school.
- Read, and read often. Whether it be books, articles, or the news, reading is so educational and keeps the mind active.
- Less is more. As I get older, the more stuff I have, the less happy I am. I am perfectly content to live in a tiny mother-in-law suite with about a quarter of the possessions we had when we first started our journey.
- Don’t be afraid of change. If I was afraid of change, I would probably still be living in our oversized loft with a lavish lifestyle with a brand new car and only be “paycheck rich.” We wouldn’t have 11 rental units that will soon be our main source of income. We wouldn’t be on the edge of retiring from the corporate world and planning to move aboard. We wouldn’t be preparing so heavily for our future if we were afraid of change.
- Food kills or heals. I am firm believer that food can heal the body. I also believe that eating the wrong kind of food can be detrimental to your health.
- Stay active. Piggy-backing off the food one, being active is the key to good health. It can improve mobility, your mood, and your health. It’s important to take action to stay active now to prevent illnesses and ailments later on down the road.
- YOLO. You’ve heard that term, right? Well I saw the other day someone saying that you only die once, but you live every day. You have a choice of how you want to live your life every day and you have to make each day count.
- Find joy in the little things. Sometimes if you’re having a shitty day and things just keep going wrong, or you’re struggling with things in life, find something that sparks joy. You can’t let a bad day or a dark place ruin your day or week or whatever it may be.
- Do what you love. We are working towards a goal of never having to work again. Work doesn’t make me happy, I dread going into work, and I definitely don’t love it. I love spending time with James and traveling and seeing the world. We are designing our future to have the freedom to do exactly what makes us happy.
- Communication is the key to success. If you don’t communicate with others, things can go horribly wrong. Only unnecessary frustration and hardship comes from lack of communication. Talk things out, keep partners informed, and always talk to each other.
- Reduce my carbon footprint. No matter one’s political party or beliefs, I truly believe climate change is a real thing. There is an unreal amount of plastic in this world. Precious materials and resources are being used by the food industry to keep up with meat and animal product demands. I am trying the best I can, in the only way I know how, to reduce my impact to this over populated, mis-treated world. I want a better future for generations to come. If we keep consuming the way that we are, there may not be a future for anyone.
- Libraries are perfect for free entertainment. I have saved so much money by checking out books from my local library. Audiobooks especially since buying them is otherwise ridiculously expensive.
- Sharing is caring. We have no shame in borrowing things from other people. Why would we buy a tool or an item for a one time use when we can just borrow one from someone in our family. Using something for a one time use, does not justify the money spend or space it would use up in our lives.
Obviously, there are a lot more than 27 life lessons that I’ve come to learn, but these things really stand out. Life is hard sometimes, but it can teach you so much. I’m not the best at doing some of these things because “life” gets in the way. It’s hard to find the time to do things that are important or that I want to do. But, some small ‘sacrifices’ now can lead to a huge payoff in the future of being able to dictate every aspect of your life, including where you live, whether you work or not, who you spend your time with, how you spend your time, etc.